After celebrating the California Supreme Court decision, there will be a lot of work to do to insure that we do not lose this right.
According to news reports, same-sex couples could tie the knot in as little as a month. But the window could close soon after because religious and social conservatives are pressing to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November that would undo the Supreme Court ruling and ban gay marriage.
Poll after poll shows significant differences in public attitudes towards gays and lesbians across potentially adversarial subgroups of the population. People in these subgroups, even the most conservative and religious, are more likely to describe themselves as having positive feelings towards gays and lesbians when they know someone personally over people that say they don’t know any LGBT folk. This is one of the major reasons to be out to family and friends. It is much harder to oppress and hate someone you know.
It is important to join the conversation right away. Whether you get your news from on line national news outlets or your local newspaper’s Web site, take a moment to post thoughtful comments at the bottom of Internet news stories about the ruling.
Don’t forget to write a letter. Send it to the editor of your local newspaper. Even if your letter isn’t published, editors make their selections based on the views of the letters they receive — so the more they hear from the LGBT community, the better.
Letter writing tips
Editors will always choose a short, pithy letter over a lengthy, rambling treatise. So make your letter short, punchy, and to the point. Focus on keeping your letter to 100-150 words.
Personal stories beat out statistics 9 times out of 10. Our inclination is to use statistics to support our argument because we assume readers will make decisions based on facts. That is not the case. People form opinions based on emotions and values. And the best way to communicate values and emotions is by telling a (short!) personal story.
Use every opportunity — meaning every sentence — to communicate your most important message. Ultimately, the “Letters to the Editor” editor has final say over which of your sentences stay and which of them go. Don’t risk the chance that your key message will be left on the editing room floor.
Use your letter to respond with your key messages rather than to react to the messages of the opposition. If you repeat the language of the opposition, you are giving their voice one more opportunity to be heard. A letter that begins, “The court’s decision on marriage is not about special rights,” will reinforce the idea that the court decision is exactly about special rights. You wouldn’t give the opposition money to run a commercial against us; don’t give them a voice in your letter, either.
Your letter should always include your complete name, phone number, and the city you live in. Your phone number will not be published, but many newspapers will call to verify that you actually wrote the letter.
Although newspapers usually accept letters by fax and snail mail, many editors prefer email. Why? Because it means the difference between an editor spending five to ten seconds to cut and paste your letter, compared with five to ten minutes to retype it. Email also arrives faster than snail mail. When sending by email, paste your letter into the body of an email. Never send attachments.
Thanks to NCLR for the letter writing tips!
From Equality California “Let California Ring” website, tips on how to have a conversation with neighbors, co-workers, and family members about why we all deserve the freedom to marry.
10 Ways to start conversations about the Freedom To Marry:
The freedom to marry isn’t just about the legal right to marry but about the opportunity to celebrate love and commitment in a supporting, understanding, and accepting society.
1. Think about it--what if you were told that you couldn't marry or do something that was personally and profoundly important to you? How would that make you feel, change your relationship, your future plans, your life?
2. In a free society, two people in a committed, trusting, and loving relationship expect the freedom to marry and the honor and support that come with marriage.
3. People can have different beliefs and still treat everyone fairly.
4. Having the same opportunities to realize hopes and dreams is a cornerstone of freedom.
5. Even if we disagree on marriage for gay and lesbian couples, does that mean it should be illegal? Is it for us to judge other people?
6. Should we close the door on marriage and full inclusion in society for some people?
7. Not everyone wants to get married, but right now the government is making that decision for gay and lesbian people.
8. Does excluding someone from marriage impact their family's perception of their relationship?
9. Domestic partnerships don't provide the same security as marriage. They exclude people from marriage and create a two-tiered system at odds with the principle that separate is not equal.
10. If two people want the responsibility and commitment of marriage, is it the business of government to tell them they can't marry, whether they are gay or straight?